Home › Forums › The Law Firm of Higbee & Associates Copyright Letter, Lawsuit and News › Pursued for Photo With NO Copyright Mark
I recently received a demand letter from Higbee & Associates. I called to ask if the photo we had posted on our company website has a copyright registration. They said yes, but there was no mark or notice on the photo. Can they demand fees if the image does not have a copyright notice.
Short answer: Yes, they can.
Copyright holders in the United States have not been required to publish their works with a copyright notice since around 1989. So, unless your infringement started before then, the lack of copyright notice is not a defense to a claim of copyright infringement.
Courts now assume that the average person knows that if they did not create the image, it must belong to someone else and be properly licensed.
The lack of the notice may slightly bolster a claim of unintentional or innocent infringement, but claims reduce liability, they do not eliminate it.
It appears you have a serious problem. You should consider consulting an attorney.
The image I used did not say anything about copyright and I searched specifically for “free images.” I think Google is partially to blame.
I responded to your related post on this forum. In short, do not expect a court to blame Google. Google places notices on its search results that warns users that images may be subject to copyright.
Copyright holders have gone after Google a few times in the past. That is part of the reason why Google now makes it very clear that the images it displays may be protected by copyright.